04.15.20

Daines Fights to Protect Outfitter Jobs During Coronavirus Pandemic

Proposal Urges Opportunities for Outfitters Operating on Forest Service Lands

U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senator Steve Daines announced today a proposal to direct funding for new trail maintenance projects to be carried out by guides and outfitters to provide economic relief amid the Coronavirus pandemic. Outfitters and guides face great uncertainty going into what is typically their peak season and some estimate as many as 70% will be forced to close down.

“This is about protecting the jobs of Montanans working in our outdoor recreation industry,” Daines said. “My proposal directs funding for projects that are shovel ready to ensure folks have work this season while also improving our trails. I will continue fighting to protect Montana jobs and our outdoor way of life through this crisis.”

Daines has been working with Montana Outfitters and Guides Association and the U.S. Forest Service on legislation to provide additional funds for trail maintenance for projects to be carried out by outfitters and guides. 

Earlier today, Montana Outfitters and Guides Association officially called on Congress to introduce legislation to that end. Daines looks forward to feedback and input as legislative language is finalized. Outfitters and guides are facing great uncertainty going into what is typically their busiest season. This legislation will provide operators with new opportunities going into tough times while having the dual benefit of restoring our trails.

Support from Stakeholders:

“While the Coronavirus pandemic is tragic for public health, permitted U.S. Forest Service outfitters have been hit hard economically--losing over 40% of their booked travel during their peak season. Our businesses rely on spring and summer activity to support their families year-round. We are eager to partner with the U.S. Forest Service to help us survive this economic downturn and provide a much-needed benefit to the public and the health of our forests. We are uniquely qualified to efficiently and effectively get the job of trail clearing done. We have the livestock, the equipment, local knowledge and the ability to do this job safely and efficiently. Most will have highly skilled crews that will be idle in June and July of this year due to the pandemic and are eager to get to work and off unemployment rolls. MOGA is grateful to Senator Daines for recognizing that if harnessed, Outfitters can clear hundreds of miles of trails, improving public access, and bolster our piece of Montana's robust tourism industry during these difficult times.”- Mac Minard, Executive Director, Montana Outfitters and Guides Association.

“There’s has been a mountainous maintenance backlog on America’s public lands, and there is currently an excess of capable and able-bodied outfitters and guides to do that work. This funding will ensure that resources will get where they are needed to maintain our national trails network, and that there will be work available to those who need it.”- Aaron Bannon, Executive Director, America Outdoors.

Background:

Daines has been leading the efforts in Congress to respond to the coronavirus outbreak impacting the country. To read about Daines’ COVID-19 related efforts click HERE.

On April 3, 2020, Daines urged the U.S. Forest Service to provide relief to the outdoor recreation industry impacted by the coronavirus.

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